June 18, 2005

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
Religion in American Culture

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

A true intellectual lightweight. I'd say in about 2/3 of the classes he could have been making the stuff up as he went along, and the remainder of the sessions Balmer screened movies, not because they told us something earth-shattering (which they didn't) but because his lazy ass wanted to avoid giving a lecture. The outside speakers he brought in were all more interested in advancing their own parochial agendas than telling us anything of value. I wasted a lot of $$ and burned some shoe leather trekking to the Hungarian on weekends to hunker down and finish the ridiculously repetitive books he assigned. I only did the readings because, since the exams are all IDs, you cannot skim to get the general concepts, but instead you must read every word and be on the lookout for words thrown in here and there that might POSSIBLY make it onto a test. Finally, he bent over backwards to allow students to waste the time with idiotic questions that belong back in the 3rd grade. At the end of the course, I felt used like a cheap whore - because I'd allowed this guy to waste so much of my time. After class every day, I quite literally regretted having attended, because sleeping in would have been a better use of my time. One of the biggest academic disappointments I've had. Avoid this guy.

Workload:

Either 2 "response" papers or 1 longer research paper; midterm and final. There's a twist to his grading policy which he won't disclose until the last week of class, but since no one has put it up yet, I'm going to blow his cover: He'll let you double your grade from one exam and drop your grade from the other. That is, if you do well on the midterm, you can simply skip the final; or if you do poorly, a bang-up job on the final can make everything right. Simply put, no need to work that hard.